The Kettle-Heaven World

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The story was originally recorded in books like the History of the Latter Han ( 《後漢書》 Houhan Shu ) and the Record of the Elixir Platform ( 《丹台錄》 Dandai Lu ). In the Han dynasty, an old man used to appear at the marketplaces in Rulan city, selling medicines. Good business brought him a lot of money every day. Local people knew neither his name nor original identity, except that he was living in a room with a gourd hung down from the ceiling. Therefore, they called him 'Lord Gourd'. Then, a man named Fei Changfan was put in charge of local marketplaces. He started to pay attention to 'Lord Gourd'. He noticed that there was no bed in Lord Gourd's room, and that he jumped into the hanging gourd in the night and came out in next morning. Fei decided to bring the secret in the light. So he came to visit Lord Gourd, helping him clean the room, or bringing him vegetables and fruits. One day, Lord Gourd said to Fei: 'please come back in the night after everyone has gone to bed.' Fei did so. Then, Lord Gourd said: 'I will jump into the gourd. Please follow me.' When Fei did as instructed, he found himself in the gourd without any difficulty. Also to his surprise, the gourd harboured a fairyland where he saw beautiful buildings high into sky and winding corridors flying in the air like rainbows.

Since then, the world in the gourd became a favourite topic among men of letters. After the Wei and Jin dynasties, it also appeared in their poetry. Li Shangying, the famous poet of the Tang dynasty, mentioned it in a poem, which went: 'fairyland exists inside a gourd, just as hermits hide themselves in clouds hung from high cliffs'.